Islay Book Festival 2017 with a Great Programme

This autumn, from 29 September to 1 October, Islay Book Festival is aiming to kick-start its second decade in a big way. Its enthusiastic team of volunteers is planning a lively programme of events aimed at increased variety, engagement, and especially fun!

Islay Book Festival first grew out of a book club based in the village of Port Ellen, hosting its first festival in 2006. Islay has since held ten successful festivals in Port Ellen and has hosted a range of famous authors including Val McDermid, Ruth Rendell, Ali Smith, Julia Donaldson, Iain Banks, Chris Brookmyre and Mairi Hedderwick.

In those first ten years, Islay Book Festival firmly established its presence on Islay’s busy events calendar and has also become a feature of the UK’s annual book festival circuit, and it has become a particularly popular festival for authors. Who wouldn’t want a trip to Islay, after all? Continue reading....

As Islay Book Festival approaches its eleventh instalment, the team is taking a fresh approach. The festival is going to be on the move this year, with events happening across Islay in order to make the most of what this fantastic island has to offer and in a bid to reach as many people as possible. The festival is also holding a special Jura day on 28 September.

Our line-up of authors in this busy programme of events, for both adults and children of all ages, includes Colin MacIntyre (Mull Historical Society), Helen Sedgwick, Sara Sheridan, E.S. Thomson, Pauline Prior-Pitt, Dr Ken MacTaggart, Alan Windram, Barbara Henderson, Linda Macleod, Ryan Van Winkle, Jura local Konrad Borkowski, and Islay’s own Jenni Minto and Les Wilson. Also featured will be Sollas Bookbinding.

And the programme? How about the following list of highlights:

  • We're based at the ICCI on the Saturday and Sunday, but with additional events happening elsewhere over the festival, including Bruichladdich Hall (Friday), the Round Church, No.1 Charlotte St in Port Ellen, Jura Care Centre in Craighouse (Thursday), and we're also doing some guided walks to The Oa and the American Monument, and to Portnahaven and Port Wemyss.
  • We're visiting Gortanvogie and Jura Care Centre this year, as well as our usual visits to each of the schools on Islay and Jura. We're also introducing some Gaelic storytelling for Bowmore's Gaelic medium students (and at the ICCI on Saturday).
  • We're holding a couple of evening events this year: Colin MacIntyre is doing a music and words evening at Bruichladdich Hall on the Friday (29th September), and we've got a historical crime evening with Sara Sheridan and ES Thomson at the Round Church on the Saturday (30th Sept.).
  • We're doing some bookbinding workshops and drop-ins over the course of the festival, and a writing workshop (which has already sold out).
  • We're going to Jura on the Thursday 28th September (also National Poetry Day) to offer some poetry events and an introduction to bookbinding.
  • We're running a photography competition linked to Konrad Borkowski's session, and he'll select the winner at his session. We received over 100 entries for this and we're shortlisting them at the moment.
  • We're running something called the 'Islay Poetry Challenge', which is a real-time poetry composition about Islay that one of our poets, Pauline Prior-Pitt, will have to compose over the festival weekend based around word contributions from the public. There'll be a board at the ICCI that people can attach words to for this, or they can send us their words via email or social media.
  • We've been leaving 'wild books' around the island for people to find, read, and then pass on to someone else. These can be registered and tracked via the website and so far these books have travelled from Islay to London, Hull, Swansea, Wicklow in Ireland, Blair Atholl horse trials (unusually!), and one has even reached as far as North Carolina in the States.
  • We're holding a 'Meet the Authors' event at No.1 Charlotte St. on Saturday afternoon, which is an informal get-together over tea and cake in order to give people a chance to chat to the authors in a relaxed environment.
  • We've had a website revamp and we're now on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, even Snapchat apparently!). The logo we're using this year was designed for us by Sarah MacPherson from Islay High.
  • We're trialling online booking this year via Eventbrite, but tickets are also available on the door.
  • Lastly, we have some really great raffle prizes this year, which will be drawn following on from Pauline Prior-Pitt's poetry session on Sunday afternoon (1st October).

For more information, please visit our website: or contact a member of our team at

Tag: book festival